PNE boss Alex Neil expecting competitive test from QPR

Preston North End manager Alex Neil is expecting a stern test from a ‘really competitive’ Queens Park Rangers side tomorrow.

The Hoops showed their battling qualities on Monday night when they scored twice in stoppage-time to earn a 2-2 draw with Brentford.

QPR's Jamie Mackie in action against Brentford this week

QPR's Jamie Mackie in action against Brentford this week

What are the likely line-ups? Who are the key men? Preston v QPR - All you need to know

Post-match, QPR boss Ian Holloway used his interview on Sky to have a pop at those fans who had left early and missed the comeback.

Neil watched the game on television, happy to point out that he had watched it in its entirety and not clocked-off early like some had done at Loftus Road.

“I didn’t switch-off early,” said the North End boss with a smile.

Former PNE loan defender Alex Baptiste who is now with QPR

Former PNE loan defender Alex Baptiste who is now with QPR

“When QPR’s first goal went in I thought they would get another chance because that is the type of team they are.

“I thought the big boy Matt Smith caused a lot of problems when he came on.

“QPR are a competitive team, they will come here and give everything they have got.

“It should be a really competitive match.”

Neil regarded Holloway’s post-match comments as a sign of the passion he has for the West London side.

“I saw his interview after the game and that is typical Ian – entertaining but also very passionate at the same time,” said Neil.

“He is desperate for his team to do well, he regards that club as his club if you like.

“When he came back last year, his first game in charge was against Norwich when I was there.

“I know how much the club means to him.”

QPR will be without Luke Freeman against North End, the midfielder having got his fifth booking in the Brentford clash – triggering a one-game suspension.

Freeman, sent-off in their last visit to Deepdale earlier in the year, is a player who Neil rates highly.

“I’ve got to admit that I was really pleased when Freeman got that booking in the game I was watching,” said Neil.

“He has done particularly well for them.

“QPR have a lot of presence at the top end, they have guys playing on the flanks who are generally strikers rather than wingers.”

There will be a familiar face in the QPR defence, both to Preston supporters and to Neil himself.

Alex Baptiste, who spent most of last season on loan at PNE from Middlesbrough, joined QPR on a two-year deal in the summer.

The move reunited him with Holloway who he played under at Blackpool.

Neil was a team-mate of Baptiste at Mansfield in his playing days.

Said Neil: “I played with Al at Mansfield.

“He is a good lad, he did well here and is doing well for QPR.”

Monday’s last-gasp draw with Brentford ended a run of three defeats.

Ex-Leeds and Fulham front man Smith, who scored their first goal in that game, is the club’s leading scorer with five.

Jamie Mackie, Idrissa Salla and Conor Washington have all netted four goals.